An arsenal of weapons
Your first task will be to equip yourself. You start the game with nothing and must gather the resources you need to make simple weapons and clothes. If you are able to survive and prosper, you can advance and build crafting stations to make much more varied and powerful gear.
It is important to arm yourself with a wide variety of weapons. Using a sword and shield together offers both a good offense and defense. The shield is excellent for blocking incoming arrows and stopping blows from melee opponents. But beware, as both shields and weapons will not last forever and will break once they have received enough punishment.
There are many weapons which can be wielded one-handed, such as short spears, axes, clubs, daggers and a host of different swords. Every type of weapon has its own purpose and can give you a tactical advantage in combat. You can thrust with the short spear but also throw it – a great way to land a killing blow against a fleeing foe. Throwing axes can also be used for this purpose, but alongside daggers these are off-hand weapons taking the spot of the shield for extra offensive power.
The mighty two-handed weapons will give you even more options in dangerous fights. A pike gives extra reach which is great for keeping wildlife at bay. Massive war hammers or mauls are good against armor and allow you to stagger your opponents with powerful blows and can shove enemies away with a disruptive push.
Ranged weapons are always deadly, especially when fired from safe battlements or at fleeing prey. You can learn both bow and crossbow and use their bolts and arrows to pierce enemies or set alight barrels filled with explosive oil.
Not all weapons are meant for killing though. Equip yourself with a sturdy truncheon and you can knock NPCs unconscious before dragging them back to your camp to be broken on the wheel of pain. The thralls can be used to entertain (removing weakness brought on by corruption), to help you craft or be deployed as defensive guards.
In the heat of battle
It is not enough to have good weapons and armor, but you must also know how to use them and to fight with skill and determination.
Combat has a strong tactical element in Conan Exiles. Instead of flailing around, just attacking in rapid succession, it is instead wise to fight with measured swings or thrusts at opportune moments.
All main-hand and two-handed weapons have a quick light attack and a slower heavy attack. The trick is to know when to use which and what you stand to gain. Attempting a powerful heavy attack could leave you vulnerable for a short time, but it might be the blow which smashes your enemy’s shield, robbing him of a crucial defensive tool for the difficult fight ahead.
You can also dodge enemy swings, either to the sides or straight backwards. Knowing when to dodge, when to block and when to attack is a critical skill you need to learn.
Another important thing is learning which weapon to use against different foes. If you plan on charging into a camp of Darfari cannibals and hunt for thralls, it will be very useful to have a shield which can block their ranged weapons as you approach. Longer weapons like the pike can be effective when trying to keep your distance from the deadly jaws of a crocodile.
Improving your character as you level up gives you the chance to focus on many different attributes. Increasing might to cause more damage in melee, putting points into athleticism to improve your armor or building up your stamina so you are able to fight better in prolonged encounters are a few of the ways you can increase your chances in tough fights.
Combat in Conan Exiles is not only tactical, but true to the world of Conan it also extremely visceral and brutal. You can cut your enemies to pieces, hacking off their heads, arms, legs or even cleave their bodies in half as their blood stains the ground. Each killing blow has a chance to cause such a fatality, and which fatality you see depends on the body part hit.
Combat will be ruthless, fast and tactical. Whether you fight alone or together with your friends you will surely face defeat often. The true measure of an exile is how you deal with your defeats. If you learn from them and evolve you will only return stronger than before, ready to crush your enemies and see them driven before you.